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Nursing Priorities

1. Provide support for decision to stop substance use.
2. Strengthen individual coping skills.
3. Facilitate learning of new ways to reduce anxiety.
4. Promote family involvement in rehabilitation program.
5. Facilitate family growth/development.
6. Provide information about condition, prognosis, and treatment
7. .
Discharge Goals
1. Responsibility for own life and behavior assumed.
2. Plan to maintain substance-free life formulated.
3. Family relationships/enabling issues being addressed.
4. Treatment program successfully begun.
5. Condition, prognosis, and therapeutic regimen understood.
6. Plan in place to meet needs after discharge.

May be related to
 Personal vulnerability; difficulty handling new situations
 Previous ineffective/inadequate coping skills with substitution of drug(s)
 Learned response patterns; cultural factors, personal/family value systems
Possibly evidenced by
 Delay in seeking, or refusal of healthcare attention to the detriment of health/life
 Does not perceive personal relevance of symptoms or danger, or admit impact of condition on life pattern; projection of blame/responsibility for
 Use of manipulation to avoid responsibility for self
Desired Outcomes
 Verbalize awareness of relationship of substance abuse to current situation.
 Engage in therapeutic program.
 Verbalize acceptance of responsibility for own behavior.
Ascertain by what name patient would like to be addressed. Shows courtesy and respect, giving patient a sense of orientation and control.
Convey attitude of acceptance, separating individual from
unacceptable behavior.
Promotes feelings of dignity and self-worth.
Ascertain reason for beginning abstinence, involvement in
Provides insight into patient’s willingness to commit to long-term behavioral
change, and whether patient even believes that he or she can change. (Denial is
one of the strongest and most resistant symptoms of substance abuse.)
Review definition of drug dependence and categories of
symptoms (e.g., patterns of use, impairment caused by use,
tolerance to substance).
This information helps patient make decisions regarding acceptance of problem
and treatment choices.
Answer questions honestly and provide factual information.
Keep your word when agreements are made.
Creates trust, which is the basis of the therapeutic relationship.
Provide information about addictive use versus experimental,
occasional use; biochemical/ genetic disorder theory (genetic
predisposition; use activated by environment; compulsive
Progression of use continuum is from experimental/ recreational to addictive use.
Comprehending this process is important in combating denial. Education may
relieve patient’s guilt and blame and may help awareness of recurring addictive
Discuss current life situation and impact of substance use.
First step in decreasing use of denial is for patient to see the relationship between
substance use and personal problems.
Confront and examine denial/ rationalization in peer group.
Use confrontation with caring.
Because denial is the major defense mechanism in addictive disease,
confrontation by peers can help the patient accept the reality of adverse
consequences of behaviors and that drug use is a major problem. Caring attitude
preserves self-concept and helps decrease defensive response.
Provide information regarding effects of addiction on
Individuals often mistake effects of addiction and use this to justify or excuse
drug use.
Remain nonjudgmental. Be alert to changes in behavior, e.g.,
restlessness, increased tension.
Confrontation can lead to increased agitation, which may compromise safety of
patient/ staff.
Provide positive feedback for expressing awareness of denial
in self/ others.
Necessary to enhance self-esteem and to reinforce insight into behavior.
Maintain firm expectation that patient attend recovery
support/therapy groups regularly.
Attendance is related to admitting need for help, to working with denial, and for
maintenance of a long-term drug-free existence.
Encourage and support patient’s taking responsibility for
own recovery (e.g., development of alternative behaviors to
drug urge/ use). Assist patient to learn own responsibility for
Denial can be replaced with positive action when patient accepts the reality of
own responsibility.
Ineffective Individual Coping
May be related to
 Personal vulnerability
 Negative role modeling; inadequate support systems
 Previous ineffective/inadequate coping skills with substitution of drug(s)
Possibly evidenced by
 Impaired adaptive behavior and problem-solving skills
 Decreased ability to handle stress of illness/hospitalization
 Financial affairs in disarray, employment difficulties (e.g., losing time on job/not maintaining steady employment; poor work performances, on-
the-job injuries)
 Verbalization of inability to cope/ask for help
Desired Outcomes
 Identify ineffective coping behaviors/consequences, including use of substances as a method of coping.
 Use effective coping skills/problem solving.
 Initiate necessary lifestyle changes.
Review program rules, philosophy expectations.
Having information provides opportunity for patient to cooperate and function as a
member of the group/ milieu, enhancing sense of control and sense of success.
Determine understanding of current situation and
previous/ other methods of coping with life’s
Provides information about degree of denial, acceptance of personal responsibility/
commitment to change; identifies coping skills that may be used in present situation.
Set limits and confront efforts to get caregiver to
grant special privileges, making excuses for not
following through on behaviors agreed on, and
attempting to continue drug use.
Patient has learned manipulative behavior throughout life and needs to learn a new way of
getting needs met. Following through on consequences of failure to maintain limits can
help the patient to change ineffective behaviors.
Be aware of staff attitudes, feelings, and enabling
Lack of understanding, judgmental/ enabling behaviors can result in inaccurate data
collection and nontherapeutic approaches.
Encourage verbalization of feelings, fears, and
May help patient begin to come to terms with long-unresolved issues.
Explore alternative coping strategies.
Patient may have little or no knowledge of adaptive responses to stress and needs to learn
other options for managing time, feelings, and relationships without drugs.
Assist patient to learn/ encourage use of relaxation
skills, guided imagery, visualizations.
Helps patient relax, develop new ways to deal with stress, problem-solve.
Structure diversional activity that relates to recovery
(e.g., social activity within support group), wherein
issues of being chemically free are examined.
Discovery of alternative methods of coping with drug hunger can remind patient that
addiction is a lifelong process and opportunity for changing patterns is available.
Use peer support to examine ways of coping with
drug hunger.
Self-help groups are valuable for learning and promoting abstinence in each member,
using understanding and support as well as peer pressure.
Use peer support to examine ways of coping with
drug binges.
Self-help groups are valuable for learning and promoting abstinence in each member,
using understanding, support, and peer pressure.
Encourage involvement in therapeutic writing. Have
patient begin journaling or writing autobiography.
Therapeutic writing/ journaling can enhance participation in treatment; serves as a release
for grief, anger, and stress; provides a useful tool for monitoring patient’s safety; and can
be used to evaluate patient’s progress. Autobiographical activity provides an opportunity
for patient to remember and identify sequence of events in his or her life that relate to
current situation.
Discuss patient’s plans for living without drugs
Provide opportunity to develop/ refine plans. Devising a comprehensive strategy for
avoiding relapses helps patient into maintenance phase of behavioral change.
Administer medications as indicated, e.g.:
Disulfiram (Antabuse);
This drug can be helpful in maintaining abstinence from alcohol while other therapy is
undertaken. By inhibiting alcohol oxidation, the drug leads to an accumulation of
acetaldehyde with a highly unpleasant reaction if alcohol is consumed.
Helps prevent relapses in alcoholism by lowering receptors for the excitatory
neurotransmitter glutamate. This agent may become drug of choice because it does not
make the user sick if alcohol is consumed; it has no sedative, antianxiety, muscle relaxant,
or antidepressant properties and produces no withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone (Dolophine);
This drug is thought to blunt the craving for/ diminish the effects of opioids and is used to
assist in withdrawal and long-term maintenance programs. It can allow the individual to
maintain daily activities and ultimately withdraw from drug use.
Naltrexone (Trexan), nalmefine (Revex).
Used to suppress craving for opioids and may help prevent relapse in the patient abusing
alcohol. Current research suggests that naltrexone suppresses urge to continue drinking by
interfering with alcohol-induced release of endorphins.
Encourage involvement with self-help associations,
e.g., Alcoholics/ Narcotics Anonymous.
Puts patient in direct contact with support system necessary for managing sobriety/drug-
free life.
May be related to
 Substance addiction with/without periods of abstinence
 Episodic compulsive indulgence; attempts at recovery
 Lifestyle of helplessness
Possibly evidenced by
 Ineffective recovery attempts; statements of inability to stop behavior/requests for help
 Continuous/constant thinking about drug and/or obtaining drug
 Alteration in personal, occupational, and social life
Desired Outcomes
 Admit inability to control drug habit, surrender to powerlessness over addiction.
 Verbalize acceptance of need for treatment and awareness that willpower alone cannot control abstinence.
 Engage in peer support.
 Demonstrate active participation in program.
 Regain and maintain healthy state with a drug-free lifestyle.
Use crisis intervention techniques to initiate behavior
Patient is more amenable to acceptance of need for treatment at this time.
Assist patient to recognize problem exists. Discuss in a
caring, nonjudgmental manner how drug has interfered with
In the precontemplation phase, the patient has not yet identified that drug use is
problematic. While patient is hurting, it is easier to admit substance use has
created negative consequences.
Involve patient in development of treatment plan, using
problem-solving process in which patient identifies goals for
change and agrees to desired outcomes;
During the contemplation phase, the patient realizes a problem exists and is
thinking about a change of behavior. The patient is committed to the outcomes
when the decision-making process involves solutions that are promulgated by the
Discuss alternative solutions;
Brainstorming helps creatively identify possibilities and provides sense of control.
During the preparation phase, minor action may be taken as individual organizes
resources for definitive change.
Assist in selecting most appropriate alternative; As possibilities are discussed, the most useful solution becomes clear.
Support decision and implementation of selected
Helps the patient persevere in process of change. During the action phase, the
patient engages in a sustained effort to maintain sobriety, and mechanisms are put
in place to support abstinence.
Explore support in peer group. Encourage sharing about
drug hunger, situations that increase the desire to indulge,
ways that substance has influenced life.
Patient may need assistance in expressing self, speaking about powerlessness,
admitting need for help in order to face up to problem and begin resolution.
Assist patient to learn ways to enhance health and structure
healthy diversion from drug use (e.g., maintaining a
balanced diet, getting adequate rest, exercise [e.g., walking,
slow/long distance running]; and acupuncture, biofeedback,
deep meditative techniques).
Learning to empower self in constructive areas can strengthen ability to continue
recovery. These activities help restore natural biochemical balance, aid
detoxification, and manage stress, anxiety, use of free time. These diversions can
increase self-confidence, thereby improving self-esteem.Note: Exercise promotes
release of endorphins, creating a feeling of well-being.
Provide information regarding understanding of human
behavior and interactions with others, e.g., transactional
Understanding these concepts can help the patient to begin to deal with past
problems/losses and prevent repeating ineffective coping behaviors and self-
fulfilling prophecies.
Assist patient in self-examination of spirituality, faith.
Although not mandatory for recovery, surrendering to and faith in a power greater
than oneself has been found to be effective for many individuals in substance
recovery; may decrease sense of powerlessness.
Instruct in and role-play assertive communication skills.
Effective in helping refrain from use, to stop contact with users and dealers, to
build healthy relationships, regain control of own life.
Provide treatment information on an ongoing basis.
Helps patient know what to expect, and creates opportunity for patient to be a part
of what is happening and make informed choices about participation/outcomes.
Altered Nutrition
Nursing Diagnosis:
 Nutrition: altered, less than body requirements
May be related to
 Insufficient dietary intake to meet metabolic needs for psychological, physiological, or economic reasons
Possibly evidenced by
 Weight loss; weight below norm for height/body build; decreased subcutaneous fat/muscle mass
 Reported altered taste sensation; lack of interest in food
 Poor muscle tone
 Sore, inflamed buccal cavity
 Laboratory evidence of protein/vitamin deficiencies
Desired Outcomes
 Demonstrate progressive weight gain toward goal with normalization of laboratory values and absence of signs of malnutrition.
 Verbalize understanding of effects of substance abuse, reduced dietary intake on nutritional status.
 Demonstrate behaviors, lifestyle changes to regain and maintain appropriate weight.
Assess height/weight, age, body build, strength,
activity/rest level. Note condition of oral cavity.
Provides information about individual on which to base caloric needs/dietary plan.
Type of diet/foods may be affected by condition of mucous membranes and teeth.
Take anthropometric measurements, e.g., triceps skinfold,
when available.
Calculates subcutaneous fat and muscle mass to aid in determining dietary needs.
Note total daily calorie intake; maintain a diary of intake,
as well as times and patterns of eating.
Information will help identify nutritional needs/deficiencies.
Evaluate energy expenditure (e.g., pacing or sedentary),
and establish an individualized exercise program.
Activity level affects nutritional needs. Exercise enhances muscle tone, may
stimulate appetite.
Provide opportunity to choose foods/snacks to meet
dietary plan.
Enhances participation/sense of control, may promote resolution of nutritional
deficiencies, and helps evaluate patient’s understanding of dietary teaching.
Recommend monitoring weight weekly. Provides information regarding effectiveness of dietary plan.
Consult with dietitian.
Useful in establishing individual dietary needs/plan and provides additional
resource for learning.
Review laboratory studies as indicated, (e.g., glucose,
serum albumin/prealbumin, electrolytes).
Identifies anemias, electrolyte imbalances, and other abnormalities that may be
present, requiring specific therapy.
Refer for dental consultation as necessary.
Teeth are essential to good nutritional intake and dental hygiene/care is often a
neglected area in this population.

Low Self-Esteem
May be related to
 Social stigma attached to substance abuse, expectation that one controls behavior
 Negative role models; abuse/neglect, dysfunctional family system
 Life choices perpetuating failure; situational crisis with loss of control over life events
 Biochemical body change (e.g., withdrawal from alcohol/other drugs)
Possibly evidenced by
 Self-negating verbalization, expressions of shame/guilt
 Evaluation of self as unable to deal with events, confusion about self, purpose or direction in life
 Rationalizing away/rejecting positive feedback about self
Desired Outcomes
 Identify feelings and underlying dynamics for negative perception of self.
 Verbalize acceptance of self as is and an increased sense of self-worth.
 Set goals and participate in realistic planning for lifestyle changes necessary to live without drugs.
Provide opportunity for and encourage
verbalization/discussion of individual situation.
Patient often has difficulty expressing self, even more difficulty accepting the
degree of importance substance has assumed in life and its relationship to present
Assess mental status. Note presence of other psychiatric
disorders (dual diagnosis).
Many patients use substances in an attempt to obtain relief from depression or
anxiety, which may predate use and/or be the result of substance use.
Approximately 60% of substance-dependent patients have underlying psychological
problems, and treatment for both is imperative to achieve/maintain abstinence.
Spend time with patient. Discuss patient’s behavior/use of
substance in a nonjudgmental way.
The nurse’s presence conveys acceptance of the individual as a worthwhile person.
Discussion provides opportunity for insight into the problems abuse has created for
the patient.
Provide reinforcement for positive actions and encourage
patient to accept this input.
Failure and lack of self-esteem have been problems for this patient, who needs to
learn to accept self as an individual with positive attributes.
Observe family interactions/SO dynamics and level of
Substance abuse is a family disease, and how the members act and react to the
patient’s behavior affects the course of the disease and how patient sees self. Many
unconsciously become ―enablers,‖ helping the individual to cover up the
consequences of the abuse. (Refer to ND: Family Processes, altered: alcoholism,
Encourage expression of feelings of guilt, shame, and
The patient often has lost respect for self and believes that the situation is hopeless.
Expression of these feelings helps the patient begin to accept responsibility for self
and take steps to make changes.
Help the patient acknowledge that substance use is the
problem and that problems can be dealt with without the
use of drugs. Confront the use of defenses, e.g., denial,
projection, rationalization.
When drugs can no longer be blamed for the problems that exist, the patient can
begin to deal with the problems and live without substance use. Confrontation helps
the patient accept the reality of the problems as they exist.
Ask the patient to list and review past accomplishments
and positive happenings.
There are things in everyone’s life that have been successful. Often when self-
esteem is low, it is difficult to remember these successes or to view them as
Use techniques of role rehearsal.
Assists patient to practice developing skills to cope with new role as a person who
no longer uses or needs drugs to handle life’s problems.
Involve patient in group therapy.
Group sharing helps encourage verbalization because other members of group are in
various stages of abstinence from drugs and can address the patient’s
concerns/denial. The patient can gain new skills, hope, and a sense of
family/community from group participation.
Formulate plan to treat other mental illness problems.
Patients who seek relief for other mental health problems through drugs will
continue to do so once discharged. Both the substance use and the mental health
problems need to be treated together to maximize abstinence potential.
Administer antipsychotic medications as necessary.
Prolonged/profound psychosis following LSD or PCP use can be treated with these
drugs because it is probably the result of an underlying functional psychosis that has
now emerged. Note: Avoid the use of phenothiazines because they may decrease
seizure threshold and cause hypotension in the presence of LSD/PCP use.
Altered Family Process
Nursing Diagnosis:
 Family Processes, altered: alcoholism [substance abuse]
May be related to
 Abuse of substance(s); resistance to treatment
 Family history of substance abuse
 Addictive personality
 Inadequate coping skills, lack of problem-solving skills
Possibly evidenced by
 Anxiety; anger/suppressed rage; shame and embarrassment
 Emotional isolation/loneliness; vulnerability; repressed emotions
 Disturbed family dynamics; closed communication systems, ineffective spousal communication and marital problems
 Altered role function/disruption of family roles
 Manipulation; dependency; criticizing; rationalization/denial of problems
 Enabling to maintain drinking (substance abuse); refusal to get help/inability to accept and receive help appropriately
Desired Outcomes
 Verbalize understanding of dynamics of enabling behaviors.
 Participate in individual family programs.
 Identify ineffective coping behaviors and consequences.
 Initiate and plan for necessary lifestyle changes.
 Take action to change self-destructive behaviors/alter behaviors that contribute to partner’s/SO’s addiction.
Review family history; explore roles of family members,
circumstances involving drug use, strengths, areas for
Determines areas for focus, potential for change.
Explore how the SO has coped with the patient’s habit, (e.g.,
denial, repression, rationalization, hurt, loneliness,
The person who enables also suffers from the same feelings as the patient and
uses ineffective methods for dealing with the situation, necessitating help in
learning new/effective coping skills.
Determine understanding of current situation and previous
methods of coping with life’s problems.
Provides information on which to base present plan of care.
Assess current level of functioning of family members. Affects individual’s ability to cope with situation.
Determine extent of enabling behaviors being evidenced by
family members; explore with each individual and patient.
Enabling is doing for the patient what he or she needs to do for self (rescuing).
People want to be helpful and do not want to feel powerless to help their loved
one stop substance use and change the behavior that is so destructive. However,
the substance abuser often relies on others to cover up own inability to cope with
daily responsibilities.
Provide information about enabling behavior, addictive
disease characteristics for both user and nonuser.
Awareness and knowledge of behaviors (e.g., avoiding and shielding, taking over
responsibilities, rationalizing, and subserving) provide opportunity for individuals
to begin the process of change.
Identify and discuss sabotage behaviors of family members.
Even though family member(s) may verbalize a desire for the individual to
become substance-free, the reality of interactive dynamics is that they may
unconsciously not want the individual to recover because this would affect the
family member(s)’ own role in the relationship. Additionally, they may receive
sympathy/attention from others (secondary gain).
Encourage participation in therapeutic writing, e.g.,
journaling (narrative), guided or focused.
Serves as a release for feelings (e.g., anger, grief, stress); helps move individuals
forward in treatment process.
Provide factual information to patient and family about the
effects of addictive behaviors on the family and what to
expect after discharge.
Many patients/SOs are not aware of the nature of addiction. If patient is using
legally obtained drugs, he or she may believe this does not constitute abuse.
Encourage family members to be aware of their own
feelings, look at the situation with perspective and
objectivity. They can ask themselves: ―Am I being conned?
Am I acting out of fear, shame, guilt, or anger? Do I have a
need to control?‖
When the enabling family members become aware of their own actions that
perpetuate the addict’s problems, they need to decide to change themselves. If
they change, the patient can then face the consequences of his/her own actions
and may choose to get well.
Provide support for enabling partner(s). Encourage group
Families/SOs need support to produce change as much as the person who is
Assist the patient’s partner to become aware that patient’s
abstinence and drug use are not the partner’s responsibility.
Partners need to learn that user’s habit may or may not change despite partner’s
involvement in treatment.
Help the recovering (former user) partner who is enabling to
distinguish between destructive aspects of behavior and
genuine motivation to aid the user.
Enabling behavior can be partner’s attempts at personal survival.
Note how partner relates to the treatment team/staff.
Determines enabling style. A parallel exists between how partner relates to user
and to staff, based on partner’s feelings about self and situation.
Explore conflicting feelings the enabling partner may have
about treatment, e.g., feelings similar to those of abuser
(blend of anger, guilt, fear, exhaustion, embarrassment,
loneliness, distrust, grief, and possibly relief).
Useful in establishing the need for therapy for the partner. This individual’s own
identity may have been lost, she or he may fear self-disclosure to staff, and may
have difficulty giving up the dependent relationship.
Involve family in discharge referral plans.
Drug abuse is a family illness. Because the family has been so involved in dealing
with the substance abuse behavior, family members need help adjusting to the
new behavior of sobriety/abstinence. Incidence of recovery is almost doubled
when the family is treated along with the patient.
Be aware of staff’s enabling behaviors and feelings about
patient and enabling partners.
Lack of understanding of enabling can result in nontherapeutic approaches to
patients and their families.
Encourage involvement with self-help associations,
Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Alateen, and
professional family therapy.
Puts patient/family in direct contact with support systems necessary for continued
sobriety and to assist with problem resolution.
Sexual Dysfunction
May be related to
 Altered body function: Neurological damage and debilitating effects of drug use (particularly alcohol and opiates)
Possibly evidenced by
 Progressive interference with sexual functioning
 In men: a significant degree of testicular atrophy is noted (testes are smaller and softer than normal); gynecomastia (breast enlargement);
impotence/decreased sperm counts
 In women: loss of body hair, thin soft skin, and spider angioma (elevated estrogen); amenorrhea/increase in miscarriages
Desired Outcomes
 Verbally acknowledge effects of drug use on sexual functioning/reproduction.
 Identify interventions to correct/overcome individual situation.
Ascertain patient’s beliefs and expectations. Have
patient describe problem in own words.
Determines level of knowledge, identifies misperceptions and specific learning needs.
Encourage and accept individual expressions of
Most people find it difficult to talk about this sensitive subject and may not ask directly for
Provide education opportunity (e.g., pamphlets,
consultation with appropriate persons) for patient
to learn effects of drug on sexual functioning.
Much of denial and hesitancy to seek treatment may be reduced as a result of sufficient and
appropriate information.
Provide information about individual’s condition.
Sexual functioning may have been affected by drug (alcohol) itself and/or psychological
factors (such as stress or depression). Information can assist patient to understand own
situation and identify actions to be taken.
Assess drinking/drug history of pregnant patient.
Provide information about effects of substance
abuse on the reproductive system/fetus (e.g.,
increased risk of premature birth, brain damage,
and fetal malformation).
Awareness of the negative effects of alcohol/other drugs on reproduction may motivate
patient to stop using drug(s). When patient is pregnant, identification of potential problems
aids in planning for future fetal needs/concerns.
Discuss prognosis for sexual dysfunction, e.g.,
impotence/low sexual desire.
In about 50% of cases, impotence is reversed with abstinence from drug(s); in 25% the return
to normal functioning is delayed; and approximately 25% remain impotent.
Refer for sexual counseling, if indicated.
Couple may need additional assistance to resolve more severe problems/situations. Patient
may have difficulty adjusting if drug has improved sexual experience (e.g., heroin decreases
dyspareunia in women/premature ejaculation in men). Furthermore, the patient may have
engaged enjoyably in bizarre, erotic sexual behavior under influence of the stimulant drug;
patient may have found no substitute for the drug, may have driven a partner away, and may
have no motivation to adjust to sexual experience without drugs.
Review results of sonogram if pregnant. Assesses fetal growth and development to identify possibility of fetal alcohol syndrome and
future needs.
Deficient Knowledge
May be related to
 Lack of information; information misinterpretation
 Cognitive limitations/interference with learning (other mental illness problems/organic brain syndrome); lack of recall
Possibly evidenced by
 Statements of concern; questions/misconceptions
 Inaccurate follow-through of instructions/development of preventable complications
 Continued use in spite of complications/adverse consequences
Desired Outcomes
 Verbalize understanding of own condition/disease process, prognosis, and potential complications.
 Verbalize understanding of therapeutic needs.
 Identify/initiate necessary lifestyle changes to remain drug-free.
 Participate in treatment program including plan for follow-up/long-term care.
Be aware of and deal with anxiety of patient and family members.
Anxiety can interfere with ability to hear and assimilate
Provide an active role for the patient/SO in the learning process, e.g., discussions,
group participation, role playing.
Learning is enhanced when persons are actively involved.
Provide written and verbal information as indicated. Include list of articles and
books related to patient/family needs and encourage reading and discussing what
they learn.
Helps patient/SO make informed choices about future.
Bibliotherapy can be a useful addition to other therapeutic
Assess patient’s knowledge of own situation, e.g., disease, complications, and
needed changes in lifestyle.
Assists in planning for long-range changes necessary for
maintaining sobriety/drug-free status. Patient may have
street knowledge of the drug but be ignorant of medical
Pace learning activities to individual needs.
Facilitates learning because information is more readily
assimilated when timing is considered.
Review condition and prognosis/future expectations.
Provides knowledge base from which patient can make
informed choices.
Discuss relationship of drug use to current situation.
Often patient has misperception (denial) of real reason for
admission to the medical (psychiatric) setting.
Educate about effects of specific drug(s) used, e.g., PCP is deposited in body fat
and may reactivate (flashbacks) even after long interval of abstinence; alcohol use
may result in mental deterioration, liver involvement/damage; cocaine can
damage postcapillary vessels and increase platelet aggregation, promoting
thromboses and infarction of skin/internal organs, causing localized atrophie
blanche or sclerodermatous lesions.
Information will help patient understand possible long-term
effects of drug use.
Discuss potential for re-emergence of withdrawal symptoms in stimulant abuse as
early as 3 mo or as late as 9–12 mo after discontinuing use.
Even though intoxication may have passed, patient may
manifest denial, drug hunger, and periods of ―flare-up,‖
wherein there is a delayed recurrence of withdrawal
symptoms (e.g., anxiety; depression; irritability; sleep
disturbance; compulsiveness with food, especially sugars).
Inform patient of effects of disulfiram (Antabuse) in combination with alcohol
intake and importance of avoiding use of alcohol-containing products, e.g., cough
syrups, foods/candy, mouthwash, aftershave, cologne.
Interaction of alcohol and Antabuse results in nausea and
hypotension, which may produce fatal shock. Individuals on
Antabuse are sensitive to alcohol on a continuum, with some
being able to drink while taking the drug and others having a
reaction with only slight exposure. Reactions also appear to
be dose-related.
Review specific aftercare needs; e.g., PCP user should drink cranberry juice and
continue use of ascorbic acid; alcohol abuser with liver damage should refrain
from drugs/anesthetics or use of household cleaning products that are detoxified
in the liver.
Promotes individualized care related to specific situation.
Cranberry juice and ascorbic acid enhance clearance of PCP
from the system. Substances that have the potential for liver
damage are more dangerous in the presence of an already
damaged liver.
Discuss variety of helpful organizations and programs that are available for
Long-term support is necessary to maintain optimal
recovery. Psychosocial needs and other issues may need to
be addressed.
Other Possible Nursing Care Plans
 Therapeutic Regimen: Individual/Families, ineffective management—decisional conflicts, excessive demands made on individual or family,
family conflict, perceived seriousness/benefits.
 Coping, Individual, ineffective—vulnerability, situational crises, multiple life changes, inadequate relaxation, inadequate/loss of support systems.
 Family Coping: potential for growth—needs sufficiently gratified and adaptive tasks effectively addressed to enable goals of self-actualization to
 (Physical needs depend on substance effect on organ systems—refer to appropriate medical plans of care for additional considerations.)